OK….. I’m not exactly binning them, I’m recycling, selling, gifting and donating them on but they’re going…. most of them…. But don’t home educators need a gazillion books in their home covering every subject under the sun? You would think so, and I assumed that we did, but apparently not! After mulling this step over and discussing it with various people and forums for a few months, I came to challenge my assumption. Here are the reasons why we don’t need all those books…
My older two children don’t enjoy reading for pleasure. They read but they don’t enjoy it and therefore the majority of the informational books go unmolested by child sized hands. They merely make the shelves look busy, cluttered, overstuffed and give me a get out clause should the Elective Home Education person come calling unannounced as I can just point dramatically in the direction of the chaotic shelving unit and say “see, that proves that we provide an education that is suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of my child”. It just isn’t fashionable to diss books when you’re a home ed parent, I’m treading on thin ice here, but confident of my ability to evidence the stellar educational environment that is provided if I were asked to. It just so happens that environment exists without all those books, in fact it exists *in spite* of all those books, goodness knows how, they were choking the life out of that corner of our lounge!
Many of the (very high quality and excellently written) books had been collected during a previous phase in our home educating lives when I was convinced that we *should* be following a plan, *should* be covering certain subjects that *should* be adult directed and that the children *should* be reading books every day. Although many of them might at some point be useful I realised that I wanted to release all the painful remnants of the *should* phase once and for all. Besides, nigh on all of it is available on the internet for nothing AND it requires no storage space and if the apocalypse ever happens and we have no more internet access, I think we will be far more concerned with meeting more basic needs…..
When overwhelmed with choice I am not good at making decisions. It goes a little like this, “ooh that’s a good book, oh and that one, yes we could do this, they might like that, ooh I’d forgotten about that one” and before you know it I have five or more books spread open in front of me. Would you care to hazard a guess how many of those books and activities actually get utilised? Yup, you’re right…. absolutely none…. because when faced with too many competing options I feel overwhelmed, my brain fogs and that is the end of it. This is the reason I shop in Aldi, I don’t want a choice of ten brands of frozen peas, I just want frozen peas. I had a lightbulb moment before Christmas that my shopping preferences could be applied to my educational and interesting book shelves. How about if I just kept a small collection of the most inspiring (to me), most motivating (to me), most accessible (to me) books and jettisoned the rest? Maybe if the fuel load of books was lighter, I might actually hit the landing strip with a few…..
So feeling brave and ‘out there’ I talked my sweet hubby into humping bags full of books up to ‘the shed’ a few days before Christmas. I felt instantly soothed and inspired by the emptiness of the shelves and the lack of visual clutter. It has opened up the floodgates for me in terms of creatively approaching all of our lives in this little house! The shelves in the lounge are a work in progress still as I’m taking the radical reshuffle as an opportunity to thin and sort toys and resources also….
What do you think? Would you liquidate your stock of books?
I should add that I didn’t include the chapter books in the cull as the girls love me to read to them, and neither did I slash the number of younger children’s picture books. Having been unschooled from the beginning, my middle two have a completely different relationship with books…. but that is a discussion for another day!